When it comes to working out a new labor deal that entails the players taking a smaller piece of an ever-growing pie, one for the tools for persuading them to accept a per-dollar reduction arises from tightening the difference between the salary cap and salary floor — and converting the salary floor into an annual minimum cash expenditure.
The offer made by the owners on March 11 included a commitment to spend 90 percent of the salary cap in cash. This would prevent teams from relying on “dead money” arising from trading or cutting players with large contracts in order to meet the minimum, and it would require all teams to spend a lot of money.
If this provision makes it into the final deal, it means that teams on the low side of the spending equation (and several were millions below what the cap floor would have been in 2010) will have to spend a lot of money in 2011.
That money could be spent via pursuing free agents, and there will be plenty of free agents available if, as expected, the minimum threshold moves from six year back to four. Or it could be spent on young players already on the roster who merit extensions.
Either way, the cash will be flowing in 2011 — and the teams that have been holding back will need to find a way to bridge the gap.